Unfortunately there’s no secret remedy for keeping cool in extreme heat while camping in an RV, in fact the best option is to pack it up and move somewhere cooler, your house does have wheels ya know!
If you can’t move to cooler temps, or maybe you’re just crazy and still want to camp out in the wild on 100 degree days, here are some Beat-the-Heat tips we’ve found over the years to help.
For us, there’s no better place than Burning Man for a little outside-the-box thinking, especially when it comes to staying cool in extreme heat. With the desert highs reaching into the 100’s and no shade trees for miles, people are forced to be resourceful to keep themselves and their RVs cool.
Here’s a quick rundown on what we covered in the video, along with a few additional tips, tricks and gadgets to help keep you (and the RV, trailer or tiny home) cool on hot days. You can find more information on most of these products in our store too under summer RV gear.
Point your windshield facing north so the morning sun on the RV is blocked by the built-in awning. Then during the hottest part of the day your RV casts a huge shadow on your outdoor living space keeping things way cooler in the afternoon and early evening.
You can use the Reflectix bubble insulation like we did but I’d personally order the more fancy, durable, lightweight and more compact stuff. The most important part is to get the “no tear” durable radiant barrier if you want it to last through multiple uses. Finally make sure you put the foil on the outside of the windows with removable painters tape, putting reflective material on the inside of the windows won’t be as effective and may even damage dual pane windows. Yes it’s expensive but it’s worth every penny.
Reflectix – http://amzn.to/2ajsdNX
When there’s no shade to be found you must create your own. Once an RV heats up its nearly impossible to get it cooled back down unless you run the A/C. Creating shade can keep the rig way cooler! As you see in the video our shade setup worked ok but not as well as we’d have liked. Below are a couple of shade fabrics that have received better reviews, come in different colors to match your style, and can be put on poles to create loads of shade (think of it as an extra awning). If you plan to camp in heat often you might prefer to build something custom from a company (like this, http://www.shelter-systems.com/burningman-shade.html). If you want to engineer your own system we’ve been told ordering from a gardening specialist will be less expensive than a “burning man” specialist. We had several people at Burning Man claim they’ve been using the same silver aluminet solar shade for 5+ years.
Sun Shade – http://amzn.to/2a6OPlL
A solar oven is great for cooking with the sun and keeping the heat out of the RV. Of course any outside grill or stove will work the same and some BBQ grills (like the Q) can even tap into your on board propane so you don’t have to carry a bunch of little bottles.
Fans are great to circulate air, and if you’re overheating spritz yourself with some water and stand in front of the breeze…you’ll instantly feel cooler. A HEPA filter fan will help trap any junk in the air, an ionizer will knock down the dust to keep the air a little cleaner and having one with oscillation is a bonus. The MaxxFan Deluxe has settings built-in to kick on and off depending on temperatures and has worked extremely well for us over the years.
Filters in the Windows
You must leave windows open to circulate air so you’ll want a good filter to trap any dust before it enters the RV. Any A/C filter will help but the more expensive ones work the best, or better yet if you plan to camp in dusty areas often then purchase the washable filter roll so you can customize and reuse the filters. A good reusable filter should last you through years.
Filter – http://amzn.to/2agsgLY
The first time we stepped into an RV cooled with an evaporative cooler we were BLOWN AWAY! A good evaporative cooler will chill an RV (or self built structure) by 10-30 degrees in warm, dry climates. There are some great portable options like the ones listed below but if you enjoy a good DIY project, make your own! Our favorite version is made for RVs and the main benefit is it can pull water directly from your fresh water tank so you don’t have to worry about running out of water. It’s made to fit perfectly in a standard vent fan opening so the install doesn’t involve cutting any holes into the roof. At the AEZ camp at Burning Man we walked into many RVs and yurts with swamp coolers that were substantially cooler, some even 20+ degrees cooler than the outside temperatures.
Evaporative Cooler – http://amzn.to/2a1uw5D
Solar and Battery
The more toys you purchase to keep cool the more power you’re going to eat through. Make sure you have plenty of solar and a large enough battery bank to support your needs. A good rule of thumb is one-to-one, meaning if you need 1000 amp hours of battery to run your gadgets you should invest in 1000 watts of solar.
Solar Power – http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/solar
Of course you can always run the generator non-stop and crank that rooftop air conditioner, but that kinda defeats the purpose of wild camping.
If you’ve been to Burning Man, Quartzite or any other wild camping gathering and have a few additional tips, ideas or comments please share them below. I am sure we’ve probably missed something here 🙂